Visual Studio 15, Team Foundation Server 15 Preview Now Available

IDE usage improvements, addition of Exception helper and Xamarin 4.1 are highlights of this release, notes John Montgomery, head of Visual Studio development.

A third preview of Visual Studio "15" and Team Foundation Server "15" are now available, which include a gaggle of new features and enhancements enabled for testing. Among the highlights that Microsoft's John Montgomery points out are IDE and code productivity improvements, a new Exception helper, and the inclusion of Xamarin 4.1.

Montgomery, who is director of program management for Visual Studio, also notes in a blog post that this version differs from Visual Studio 2015 Update 3, which was released at the end of June. He warns that VS 15 should not be installed in production environments, and that in test environments it can be installed "right on top of any previous Visual Studio "15" Previews and side by side with previous versions of Visual Studio."

Among the IDE and code productivity improvements:

  • Introduction of a new external service host to replace vshub. According to the release notes, "this new service host is an external process and will appear in task manager as ServiceHub.Host.CLR.*.exe, as well as node.exe."
  • Reload Solution replaces Reload All Projects, which aims to improve performance when "switching branches external to VS."
  • Addition of an icon tray to IntelliSense that enables filtering member list by type. This feature has to be enabled by going to Tools | Options | Text Editor | [C# | Visual Basic] | IntelliSense and checking the filtering and highlighting options.
  • Long strings can be split by positioning cursor where you want split to occur in the string and pressing Enter.
  • Code action added to convert a property to a method.
  • NavigateTo now uses fuzzy matching.
  • Style analyzers for enforcing coding conventions have a number of additions and updates, including the ability to name styling rules and use of var or explicit types, to name a few.

Also new is an Exception Helper, which provides a quick look at exception information from within a non-modal dialog. From the dialog, one can also view inner exceptions. Exceptions can also be configured to be conditional. And support for Xamarin 4.1, which adds support for tvOS and has improved XML editing features, is now included in VS 15 P3.

And of course, that's not all. As follows any Visual Studio release, there's almost always a parallel release of TFS. And this version of TFS 15 P3 has nearly an equal number of enhancements and new features as does VS 15. Highlights:

  • Code Search: Search across projects using rich filtering, semantic ranking, and code collaboration capabilities.
  • Package Management: Allows for creation and sharing of NuGet feeds.
  • Personal Access Tokens: Instead of requiring a username and password to an application, personal access tokens allow external user accounts limited access to applications, with ability to control time period and scope of user activity.
  • Agile Development Improvements: Reconfigured look and feel for Work Item form; Follow button on work items to allow tracking of any changes to work items; live updates of Kanban boards; checklists are now hyperlinked and editable via a context menu.
  • Dashboard, Widgets: Widget catalog redesigned with search capabilities; Query Tile Widget supports 10 conditional rules and can have a colored background; height of Pull Request widget is customizable; dashboard allows for customization via REST APIs.

As is the case with VS 15, this version is meant for testing environments only, as many of the features aren't enabled fully or completely. TFS 2015 release notes are here; known issues are here.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is a long-time software publishing veteran, having started up and managed several developer publications for the Clipper compiler, Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic. He's also managed IT pubs for 1105 Media, including Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and Virtualization Review before landing his current gig as Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief. Besides his publishing life, he's a professional photographer, whose work can be found by Googling domingophoto.

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